23 October 2023- Peak leaf change is right around the corner in the western half of the state, evident in the russet leaves of the oaks, bronze and yellow hickory canopies, and the dazzling ruby red maples. The weather conditions remain ideal during the weekdays when Marylander’s are experiencing crystal blue, sunlit skies during the day, winding down with star-filled skies and chilly temperatures at night. Weekend weather systems have been a regular feature, bringing us wind and rain across much of the region, resulting in premature leaf loss in some areas of our state. However, there is plenty of fall color to be found if you know where to look. And this week, Western Maryland steals the show.
Cold, wet and windy conditions persisted through much of the week in northern Garrett County, bringing more leaves down to the forest floor. But leaf peepers need not despair, according to Forest Manager Sean Nolan. “Plenty of colorful leaves remain in the treetops at Savage River State Forest,” Nolan said. “The maple leaves have all turned while the oak trees are at various stages of color change with many still holding green leaves. The color change is definitely coming in waves, with individual trees showing vibrant colors and surrounding trees showing subtle changes. I would say we have certainly reached the midpoint and are moving toward peak as the oak trees continue to change.”
More changes are happening in Big Pool where reds are beginning to appear in the tree canopies and fallen leaves in shades of amber and gold line the forest floor. However, peak leaf change is still some days away. “There are still many green trees, especially near our water sources,” reports Ranger Kendra Bree, of Fort Frederick State Park.
This picturesque view of Lake Habeeb is framed by the iconic Evitts Mountain, named after one of the area’s earliest European settlers, Jacob Evart. Jacob moved to the mountain to live a hermit life after being rejected by a woman in the Frederick County area in the 1730s.
Aaron Cook, project manager and forester, reports from Clear Spring this week: “The sugar maples are showing some wonderful color despite the dry growing season. Hickory is starting to be in full color, and the ridges are turning an orange hue with individual dots of red and purple. I would guess peak color will happen just before Halloween. For anyone taking advantage of the early muzzleloader or black bear hunting seasons, they should revel in being in the woods during the peak of fall foliage.”